LOUD & CLEAR: Hazing, Racial Taunts, Acceptable Army “Training” Tools; Jury Acquits NCO in Chen Suicide

A 10-member Army jury acquitted Sgt. Adam M. Holcomb, 30, of negligent homicide, hazing and several other charges at a court-martial July 30 at Fort Bragg, N.C. Witnesses said Holcomb, a father of three from Youngstown, Ohio, repeatedly abused Pvt. Danny Chen, 19, physically and mentally because Chen was a weak soldier prone to mistakes; but that such treatment is commonly practiced by leaders as “corrective training” to make substandard soldiers better. Chen shot himself to death Oct. 3 inside a guard tower at a remote combat outpost in Afghanistan after he was hazed by senior soldiers who called him “gook” and “chink” and made him crawl while pelting him with stones, military prosecutors said. (NY Daily News)

Sergeant Acquitted of Driving a Suicide

by Kirk Semple

New York Times, July 30, 2012

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — A military jury on Monday acquitted a sergeant on the most serious charges in the death of Pvt. Danny Chen, a Chinese-American from Manhattan who killed himself last year while deployed in Afghanistan, but found him guilty on lesser charges.

The jury determined that the sergeant, Adam M. Holcomb, was not guilty of negligent homicide, reckless endangerment, communicating a threat and hazing.

Sergeant Holcomb was convicted on two counts of maltreatment and one count of assault consummated by battery.

Prosecutors had sought to convince the jury that Sergeant Holcomb’s treatment of Private Chen, which the prosecutors said included hazing and racial taunts, led directly to his suicide.

The 10-member jury of Army officers and enlisted soldiers reached its verdict after about two hours of deliberations on Monday afternoon.

Pvt. Danny Chen

The court-martial began last Tuesday.

Sergeant Holcomb was one of eight soldiers charged in the case and the first to be tried.

After the verdict was announced, the court-martial moved into the sentencing phase. The jury heard arguments from both sides and was expected to begin sentencing deliberations on Tuesday. He faces up to two years in prison, officials said.

In testimony during the sentencing hearing, Sergeant Holcomb apologized and said he was suffering from symptoms that resembled post-traumatic stress disorder after three deployments to war zones.

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Army Was Investigating Fort Lee-Based Officer, 26, Who Prayed Moments Before Shooting Self in Head

Gun Range Owner Haunted by Recent Suicide on Premise

WTVR, July 23, 2012

Army 2ndLt. James R. Cho, of Lagrange, Ill., shot himself in the head July 18, 20112, inside an off base shooting range. Cho, 26, was reportedly was the subject of an Army investigation for an unspecified crime.

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WTVR)–The owner of The Smoking Gun pistol range didn’t want to appear on TV, but he did want to set the record straight about the suicide inside his business five days ago. 

It’s a death that he says has made it hard to sleep at night.

It began with the sound of gunshots inside a shooting range. It’s safe to say it’s common to hear that sound there, but a shot last week still haunts the range owner.

“I yelled, ‘Lieutenant!” he said. “’You have five minutes,’ but he didn’t acknowledge me.”

Second Lieutenant James Cho, an Army Reserve officer was dead.  The gunshot wound to the head was later determined to be a suicide.  The Smoking Gun’s owner says Cho was in a position that he’ll never forget

“It appeared as if he was praying, trying to make peace with god, I guess.”

Sources tell CBS 6 Cho was under an Army investigation for an alleged criminal act but wouldn’t give further details. 

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War Vets in “Life and Death” Struggle at Home Won’t See Electronic Health Records Until 2017 … Maybe

“I know what it takes to get this stuff done and five years, gentlemen, is totally unacceptable,” Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, chairman of the VA subcommittee on oversight and investigations, told Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki July 25.(DoD)

Integrated VA-DOD Health Record at Least 5 Years Away

“It’s not technology … it’s leadership,” said VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, when explaining the ongoing delays to merging existing electronic health record systems

by Karen Peterson
The News Tribune, July 28, 2012

House committees on armed services and veterans affairs held a joint hearing Wednesday to review details of President Barack Obama’s plan to improve the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) for separating and retiring military members, with a kind of five-to-seven-day “reverse boot camp” available by late 2013 to smooth transition to civilian life and employment.

But lawmakers were more interested in asking their witnesses – the secretaries of defense and of veteran affairs – for progress on some older initiatives that so far have fallen short of helping veterans.

One such initiative is the integration of separate VA and Department of Defense electronic health record systems, a key component to achieving Obama’s promise of a Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) that would capture full health care histories on individuals, including private-sector care.

American know-how put a man on the moon in less than a decade, but 50 years later we can’t produce single electronic medical database for our military and veterans in the same span of time — Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs committee

Committee members said they were disappointed to learn that full integration of the VA and Department of Defense health record systems won’t occur until 2017. And Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki didn’t sound confident about meeting that deadline.

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